A Hellish Chorus: Social Criticism in Thick as a Brick

Here is a nicely written essay that offers Burke’s interpetation of the social commentary dispersed throughout the lyrics and extra-music material of Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick (1972).

Analysis of Variance

December 8th, 2008

At first exposure, Jethro Tull’s 44-minute song Thick as a Brick may seem to be filled with nothing more than a bizarre and incomprehensible string of lyrics. Ian Anderson called it a “spoof” of other concept albums, and the album insert is a mock newspaper whose articles make ridiculous, seemingly accidental references to the song. The fictional back-story of the lyrics—that they were written for a contest by an eight-year-old boy named Gerald Bostock—further downplay their significance. According to the newspaper insert, Bostock’s poem actually won the contest at first, before a “hastily reconvened panel of Judges accepted the decision by four leading child psychiatrists that the boy’s mind was seriously unbalanced and that his work was a product of an ‘extremely unwholesome attitude towards life, his God and Country’” (1).[*] The comically severe traditionalism of their assessment highlights the poem’s atmosphere of satire and self-ridicule…

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About simonwoodhonours

Simon Wood (Honours in Media and Communication) is an RMIT student whose specialist discipline is in the 'contemporary music industry'. For his honours study in 2013, Simon will be researching the ‘concept album’, and its significance within the contemporary music industry.
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